Thailand doesn’t necessarily have seasons, or at least not in the way we’re used to thinking about them in North America. Basically, Thailand is hot and dry or hot and rainy.
So, when is the best time to visit Thailand?
Thailand’s high tourist season runs from mid-November through February, with a peak in December and early January. This is when the country has the all-around best weather, with comfortable temperatures and very little rain. Accommodation costs the most during high season, and it’s necessary book ahead (see our booking widget, below). Transportation, especially ferries, runs regularly and frequently.
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Thailand’s shoulder seasons are October and March. During these two months, Thailand is warmer and wetter than during high season. Still, as far as prices and availability go, these can be the best months to visit. Because tourists are fewer, guest houses tend to lower their prices. You might find that a few places, particularly in October, haven’t completely opened for high season yet; usually this translates to fewer wi-fi spots or limited menus. While you may not need to book your accommodation ahead of time, you should probably check to make sure it’s open, especially on smaller islands. Water transportation can also be somewhat limited due to rougher water and less demand.
Tip: during low and shoulder seasons, you can (gently) bargain for your hotel room rate in many places. Don’t force the issue, but if you’re staying for several nights or traveling with a large group, you might be able to knock some baht off the price.
The low season in Thailand runs from April to September. April is the hottest month throughout the country, and after that begins the rainy season. If you don’t mind the warmer temps and some heavy showers, however, the low season can be an exceptionally cheap time to visit Thailand. Rooms are at their cheapest (which is good, because you’ll want air-conditioning!), and the crowds of tourists in places such as Phuket are nowhere to be seen. The low season isn’t a good time to visit many of the islands, however. Many tiny ones have no ferry service to them during the summer months, while others have very limited offerings. Be sure to research ahead if you’re planning an island trip during the off-season.
Tip: Most hotels’ websites will list high, low, and shoulder-season prices with exact dates, helping you plan your budget.
[Photo credit: puuikibeach, Flickr]